We have carpet!

The crazy thing about having the same carpet for 22 years is that when you get new carpet, it looks decidedly odd for awhile.  But I suspect that those of you who have NOT spent years and years looking at my living room will more immediately see the great improvement that it is.

For comparison purposes, this first picture is one from a few years back, with different furniture.  But it shows the green carpet and the yellow paint that we just replaced.

Towards the living room



Then here’s the new paint, different furniture, but still the same old carpet.

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And here’s the whole room all done, complete with the new paint and (hooray!) the new carpet!

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It’s a much more neutral look than my yellow paint and green carpet, but I think it will be more pleasing to the average buyer, and (now that my eyes are getting used to it) it looks lovely and clean and serene to me as well. 
From the stairs

As you can see, I couldn’t resist adding new throw pillows for just a little pop of color though!  I love the orange for fall, and am thinking some cranberry red pillows would be a nice color for the Christmas season.

Did you spot my new floral chairs in the corner of the photo above? They were a $120 Craigslist find– truthfully a little crowded in the current space, but the living room in our new house is huge, and will fit the new furniture nicely.

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What do you think of the chair rail painted white? A terrible thing to do to solid oak, according to my woodworker hubby, but I like the contrast it makes to the grey.

Doing ALL the things

Credit: Hyperbole and a Half

This cartoon so aptly describes my current frame of mind that I just had to share it with you.  I am bopping madly from task to task to task, seemingly adding things to the list as fast as I am checking them off.  Here are a few highlights from the week

  • Did an hour-long interview with Faith Radio talking about Forever Mom: What to Expect When You’re Adopting | Listen here or pick up the e-book for 99 cents!
  • Worked on clearing out the garage so we can paint it soon.  We actually have some empty shelves now, so I must be making progress.
  • Sold extra canning jars.  I still have at least 150 in the pantry full of fruits and veggies.  I’m pretty sure that will be more than enough at our new house where we are likely to only have a few tomatoes and peppers, and maybe a few (purchased) bushels of apples to sauce in the fall.
  • Brought two loads of clothes to the thrift store.  The kids are really getting into the decluttering spirit, and most of them have spent time weeding out what they don’t need.
  • Set lots of trash out for the trash man.  Crazy how much old stuff a garage can hold without you even being aware of it.
  • Delivered some of the more useful items to my married daughters.
  • Sorted through books in bookshelves, giving some away, bringing some to the bookstore for credit, and boxing some up to go on to the new house.  Our bookshelves cover most of the walls in the upstairs family, and since the family room really needs to be painted, the books and shelves need to be some of the first things boxed up.
  • Did senior pix for our three seniors, something that did not thrill them but that I think will gain some nice additions to our wall.
  • Installed new lights in various halls and closet.  I found some amazingly good-looking lights for just $8 each.  Definitely an upgrade from the old gold fixtures.
  • Installed new smoke detectors, not because they were broken but because they were old and yellowed and looked terrible against the new grey paint on the walls.  It is really hard to decide how much fixing up is essential, and how much won’t matter a bit to a buyer. That $45 purchase is a perfect example of ‘maybe not necessary, but it looks so much better.’  Problem is, the budget will buckle under too much of that, so I’m trying not to get too carried away.
  • FINALLY finished repainting all the doors in the house.  Wow, that job went on and on.
  • Fixed the tracks on three closet doors.  What a wrestling match that was!  I have sore shoulder muscles today to prove it.
  • Spent the week bummed that I lost my fitbit charger, because I have been a perpetual ball of activity, and didn’t get fitibit ‘credit’ for any of it.   But the new charger came today–hooray!
  • Last but not least we chose kitchen cabinets and counters.  I went with white shaker style cabinets and a mid-tone granite containing white, grey, black and just a little of the red-brown of our floor. The granite has some motion and patterning, but is not hugely busy.  Backsplash is subway tile with a thin line of accent tiles.  All the choices were moderate in cost but should combine to make a nice upscale, neutral, clean look.  I am excited to see it all come together!

That’s all I have time for today– I am off to do battle with the garage today!  Hope your week is going well!

Cartoon credit to Hyperbole and a Half. (Language warning)


We got the house!!! Closing December 18th. So exciting!  And what a crazy time of year to be moving…

This morning I’m off to look at cabinet choices for our current house.  Our goal is to put it on the market January 1st.  What a lot we have to do!

On pins and needles

Well, after several weeks of looking for just the right place, we’ve put in an offer on a house. It’s much closer to John’s work, and on a much smaller property, but has a big common area to run the dog and have picnics and host our annual 4th of July bash.  My favorite part is a mega-huge living room– perfect for having our mob over for Sunday dinner.

It’s a foreclosure property, and we’re crossing our fingers that the bank will accept our offer.  We think we may hear something today, so I’ll keep you posted.  Meanwhile our painting efforts have moved upstairs, and we have a someone coming in today to measure our kitchen for new cabinets.

Something about using a house hard for 22 years leaves the cabinets less than stellar, and prevailing wisdom these days is that kitchens sell houses. So here’s what I’d love to hear from you today: in your ideal kitchen, what color would the cabinets and counters be?   Here are some ideas that appeal to me at the moment.


But I thought it would be fun to take a poll and see what you all think makes a pretty kitchen. Here’s a photo of the current kitchen so you can get an idea of the space I’m working with.

Kitchen Before


It actually doesn’t look bad on the surface–we’ve thought of leaving the cabinets and just adding granite.  But the insides of the cabinets are very worn– lots of chips and broken bits as well as water damage under the sink. All that wear would be a real turnoff to a buyer, especially at the price point at which we hope to sell.

So tell me:  lighter or deeper cabinets?  What tones of granite would you have in your dream kitchen?  By all means share pinterest links and photos if you have ideas.


The painting that never ended

I was trying to figure out today why after only one night of work I am so exhausted.  Then I realized that probably it is not just the night of work.  It is the fact that for the past five days anytime that I haven’t been scurrying around running a million errands, I’ve been painting.

I’ve painted halls and doors, the kitchen, the living room, the dining room, the entry way, and the staircase to the upstairs. For at least two days while working on the living room, I was having anxiety attacks about the grey paint not being right.  But honestly, I just kept thinking, I don’t care if I hate it. Get it done.

However, once we started getting the white trim painted, it all started coming together in a hopeful way.  The grey popped in a really nice way against the white, and it really grew on me.  I found a fun art print to put on the living room wall that does a nice job tying in the grey with the tans on the couches.  I have some new throw pillows coming.  And– oh, the glory!– after 22 years with the same green carpet, we have new carpet being installed in two weeks.

I am resisting the urge to show you photos right now in the middle because I want to show you true ‘after’ photos instead.  But it’s coming together!  Hooray!  And maybe someday I will find time to sit down and actually write again.  Are you enjoying your fall?  Do you have any fall projects in the works?

By the way, for anyone who noticed that some of my recipes weren’t working lately, that problem should now be resolved.  So print away!  But do remember you can also get a whole book full of my favorite affordable and family-friendly recipes right here: Family Feasts for $75 a Week.



buzzing around….

Hello!!  Yes, I’m still here.  Just buzzing around doing all sorts of interesting things.  At least once a week I’ve been enjoying that sweet new grandbaby and playing with her older siblings so mama can nap. We’ve been homeschooling and keeping up with all the normal stuff around here, including 2 night shifts a week at the hospital.

As an addition to our homeschool learning about refugees, the girls and I have been volunteering with a local ministry that helps new refugees settle into our community.  We have very much been enjoying getting to know a family that just arrived in Boise from Malaysia, and have had fun learning bits of each others’ languages.

Along with all that, John and I have been noodling around the idea of selling our place here and moving to a place in town.  And after 22 years of beating down the weeds and doing the upkeep on our three acres, we are realizing we may be getting a little weary of having so, so much land to tame.

The chickens and the cow and the huge garden and greenhouse have been lots of fun.  But we’re wondering if maybe we’d like to shift some of our time in other directions during the coming years. This house is just about paid off and the difference in property cost between here and a place in town would be a great jump on the start of our (someday) ocean dream.  And a smaller yard is sounding more and more appealing.

So we’ve been dipping our toes in the local real estate waters. We’ve begun looking at houses to see what we might be able to get in town that would leave us some equity to put toward our beach house dream.  Lots of house-hunting has netted some possible options.  But nothing so far feels decidedly ‘ours’. I’ve fallen in love with a house or two.  So far we haven’t been able to find out that would give John some good shop space.  Maybe we’ve lived here too long to get that ‘home’ feeling about anyplace but here. But maybe there’s something out there.  We’ll keep looking.

We’ve also been looking at our own house with resale value in mind, just in case we do find a good place in town.  We bit the bullet and replaced the elderly furnace. I did some major decluttering in the garage, with the plan of eventually texturing all the walls and shooting a fresh coat of paint on everything out there.

I’m cleaning out closets and giving away all sorts of things that we don’t need. The linen closet with half its contents removed looks incredibly more spacious and well organized. I need to paint the shelves and put the door back on, and then next on the list is a similar makeover of the master closet.

Useful grey by Benjamin MooreI’ve repainted all the doors and much of the trim on the main level of the house. The trim is just a plain white, and for the walls I chose a Benjamin Moore paint in a nice soft neutral tone called ‘Useful Grey.’  Funny name, eh? To the right is the color in someone else’s home.

New paint and door knobsAnd here’s a picture of our hallway showing the contrast between grey and white.  So clean and crisp.  (It proved crazy-hard to get the paint to show up as the right color on my camera, though– thus the photo above.)

This photo also shows our new door knobs. I bought new doorknobs and hinges for the whole house, to replace the brassy ones we’ve had since the 90’s. The grand total of that project was $280, and they really update the doors, I think.

We have new living room carpet coming soon.  Our current carpet is a very worn teal green that just screams 1990’s.  :)  I got bids from a bunch of places but settled on RC Willey since their cost was the absolute best, and their work has been recommended.

As is typical for me, I want to do ALL.THE.THINGS. at once.  (Except, apparently, blogging–oops!)  It could be that after more house hunting we will just decide to stay put here– who knows?  Or maybe just the right house will show up during the next few months and we will make the leap to a new place.  But in any case these new fix-ups on our house are really fun and fresh, and (except for the boring furnace) not even all that spendy.  I keep forgetting to take pictures of my projects, but I will share more soon, because there’s lots happening.

Until then, thanks for sticking with me and checking in even when life gets busy and I don’t post often.  I appreciate your visits here!


Barstools for every budget

Can you believe it– a 3rd post in one week??  I think this part time work is agreeing with my blog!  The other day I was on Pinterest and got fixated on bar stools, and in the process I found so many fun style that I thought it’d be fun to share my finds here. Some of them are a little on the spendy end of life, but there are several budget options including one that (believe it or not) you can make yourself.

This first one is probably completely impractical– I don’t even know where you’d find truck springs that big–but I love, love, love the beefy look and the style!

truck springs

These next two are from Pottery Barn and at $200-$300 each they are a lot more than I’d like to spend. I also don’t like to imagine the havoc a toddler could make on these seats with a peanut butter sandwich.  Yikes.  But oh, so pretty.

Pottery Barn, backless

Pottery Barn, with backrest









DIY Industrial Pipe StoolsHere’s that DIY stool project— I think it is super fun, and if you buy the parts at ZORO.com, the total cost per stool is somewhere around $60.  I love the fun steampunk look, though I would probably stain the wood top a darker color, and use a metal floor flange for the feet instead of the knob end.  You could even bolt them to the floor that way if you wanted to.

This next stool is from World Market and gets tons of rave reviews on the website– always a good sign.  I like the nice broad base– looks sturdy enough even for energetic children.World Market stool  It looks like it would be fairly adjustable height-wise too. At $119 each, these stools are mid-range cost-wise, but after spending 10 minutes reading the reviews, I felt ready to buy anyway. People love these things.

The stools below are from Overstock.com.  They’re $89.99 for a pair.  Look at all the colors they come in! I love the idea of popping some bright green ones into an otherwise neutral kitchen.

from Overstock.com

b7These barstools are available on amazon.  At $63 a pair they’re super affordable and also highly reviewed.  (Amazon reviews are sooo helpful!)  I like the textured seats and the fact that many reviewers mentioned that they were comfortable and stable for little children.

And finally, if you have some old bar stools that you’d like to repurpose, be sure to check out these tutorials for remaking barstools into night stands or side tables.  What neat ideas, eh?


Kitchen Project: Tile Backsplash

We’ve been gradually, gradually working to update our kitchen, and I am excited to show you our latest project– a shiny new backsplash!

Here’s the tile that we started with.  I slapped it up a few years ago, and never got around to grouting it.  It was fine at the time, but after a few years I was ready to see it go.  The little racks on the wall are plate racks– they’re out of here too.


When we went to rip off the tile, big chunks of the sheetrock wall came away as well, leaving quite the ugly mess. Some of it was patchable with mud, but in several places John had to cut out the ruined sheetrock and patch in new sheetrock.

Where the sheetrock got ugly

Here’s the wall with the sheetrock replaced.

patching holes

Then here it is with the mud on and smoothed out.

wallboard and mud

Once that was sanded smooth it was finally time to begin with tile.  Here’s the first section all laid out.  The tile comes in 12 inch by 12 inch sections, with individual tiles held together by a mesh backer.  That allowed us to cut out sections of tile where the outlets needed to go.

First course of tile

Here’s a closeup of tile around an outlet with new outlet covers in place. There’s no grout yet, and you may be able to see the tiny t-shaped spacers holding sections of tile apart where the sections of mesh backer came together. New outlet covers

Those little spacers turned out to be a dog to get out of all the cracks.  That’s what we were doing in this photo. I think we should have removed them the same day instead of waiting until the next day.

Picking away at the extra grout

The scariest part was the grouting process, because as you wipe off the grout, it smears all over the face of the tiles, making them muddy and ugly-looking.  Wiping the faces off with a damp sponge, per directions, helped clean them some.  But there was still a persistent film that we couldn’t fully remove until the next day when the rest of the grout was dry.

I was nervous about doing the silicone line at the bottom edge, but it turned out well enough that I went on to do new silicone around the kitchen sink AND around one of our bathroom sinks.  (The trick? Painter’s tape on both sides of your line so that it won’t spread further than you want it to.)

Before grout

Finally,  here are the ‘after’ pictures!  You should be able to click on the photos to enlarge them a bit.

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Installing a new tile backsplash





 Thoughts afterward:

I’m very glad that we chose one-inch tile for my first tile project.  I ended up only having to cut half a dozen tiles at the edge of one light switch, and almost all of them chipped or broke in half the wrong direction.  Thankfully the edge of the outlet cover hides them, and grouted they are plenty stable and should not cause any trouble.  You’ll only see them if you know exactly where to look, and it’s back in the corner behind the coffee pot, so it really is a non-issue. But looking back, a better way to handle the broken bits probably would have been to simply cut them off the mesh sheet and add in other individual tile that I actually was able to cut without breaking. Tile (9)

If we’d chosen large tile, I think the cutting would have been a lot harder and probably we’d have needed a wet saw. And given my lack of expertise, I’m glad this isn’t an area that gets buckets of water like a shower wall.  It was a low-stakes beginner project.


If I had it to do again, I might pick a lighter or more neutral color of grout– not pure white because I think that would be terrible to keep clean.  The darknesst of what I chose, however, made the tile lose a little of its sparkle.  The color was called ‘nutmeg’ and ended up matching a little too closely, I think.  But overall I am happy with how it turned out.  And even though in the middle of grouting I said I would never, never again install tile, I confess to wondering where else I might be able to practice my tile-laying skills.  Maybe I could get even better at it.

Installing a new tile backsplash


Past Kitchen Projects

2013: My new kitchen floor

2014: stain and hardware to refresh the cabinets

2015: New ceiling lighting


How to make refillable k-cups work with the Keurig 2.0

Last week we decided to bite the bullet and replace our old Keurig that had gone toes up a few weeks earlier.  When trying out this new one, which is a model 2.0 that we got from Costco , John was disgusted to discover that the Refillable Single K-Cup Brewers  that we’ve been using with our old Keurig don’t work on this new version.

Make a reusable Keurig cup work with the Keurig 2.0



He called the company to find out where to get a new refill cup, but was told that the new Keurig was designed only to be used with the toss-away cups.  The worker explained that the machine is fitted with an electronic eye that reads the top of the K-cup.  So not only will it not ‘read’ the refill packs, it also won’t read some of the more affordable ‘off’ brands of throw-away cups.  John was aggravated at first, but then he had a great idea.

Keurig 2.0

He carefully removed the foil top from a K-cup that had already been used, and simply taped it to the top of one of our refill cups.  In these photos he used clear packing tape, but we found that duct tape, cut into thin strips to cover only tiny bits of the foil, is actually more durable.

Keurig 2.0 (2)

He then stuck the refillable cup into the coffee pot.  Voila!  The electronic eye had something to read, and it merrily chugged out a cup of coffee with nary a complaint.  I thought this was such a good idea that I decided to share it here, in case others of you have bought the Keurig 2.0 and were also frustrated by the same problem.

Note:  After writing this post, I googled the problem and came across this video telling how someone else solved this problem in a very similar way.  That way didn’t work for us– the foil crumples when you open and close the lid, but it might work for others, so I’m including the link just in case.


A simple project, gone complicated

So  on Friday I was meandering around Costco with no pressing deadlines and a dab of money in my pocket– always a dangerous scenario.  Near the light bulbs I spotted some sleek new trim-outs for the can lights in our kitchen (kinda like this.) I’d been considering updating ours for a couple years– we’ve had the same eye-ball style cans since 1993 when we moved into our house.  The last time I’d priced LED replacements, they were about $20, which times eight cans always felt like more than I wanted to spend. Except on Friday Costco had them for $10, with a $2 instant rebate to sweeten the deal.  Into my cart they went. John and the teenagers were at snow camp for the weekend.  But our electrician had reassured us a few months earlier that it was a very simple fix– just unscrew the existing light bulb, removed the old trim, screw a retrofit piece into the old bulb hole and mount the new trim.  I figured that I could easily have the project done in an hour, and imagined John’s happy surprise at the new look, the price, and the thought of the money we’d save on power with LED’s. I popped the first light in, no problem, and flipped the switch to test it.  Worked great and was so bright.  Neat!  Encouraged, I flipped the switch back off so as not to electrocute myself while I worked, and went on replacing all the others.  The eight lights are on three different switches– 6 in the main kitchen area, one over the sink and another in the hall.   Once I got them all installed, I flipped on the switch over the sink.  Lights!  The hall light worked great too.


Old versus new

But when I flipped the switch powering the 6 main lights, there was an ominous pop, no kitchen lights turned on, and all the living room lights went out too.  Darn.  We’d flipped a breaker. I turned off the switch, went out to the garage to reset the breaker, and came back to try the light again.  Pop again. Double darn.  What on earth could be wrong?  I figured there must be a short somewhere within the 6 lights, but since I didn’t know which it was, I ended up taking out every single one.  My plan was to add them back in one by one so that I could figure out where the issue was.  Problem was, no matter where I added one in, the breaker flipped. I put in a call to our electrician, hoping maybe he could help me trouble-shoot over the phone.  But since it was 7PM on a Friday night, I wasn’t at all sure I’d get a response.  To make things worse, a bit more tweaking ended up with an even bigger problem– the breaker stopped being able to be reset.  So now the only working light in the main area of the house was the one in the hall, which was on a separate breaker than the kitchen and living room.  And of course the living room circuit also controlled our internet and our TV. Darkness was descending. I could only imagine how glum my husband would be to come home Sunday to the sight of dangling wires were there used to be lights, and no power to the main rooms in the house.  I’ve attempted solo projects before without consulting my husband, with varying degrees  of  success and he’s not always thrilled to be finishing what I started.I was anxious to add another fail to the list. I left another message with our electrician, explaining the latest developments.  Five minutes later — thank heavens– he called back.   He walked me through a bit of trouble-shooting, switching various switched off and on, which (thankfully) ended up in getting the breaker re-set and working.  Now, as long as we kept the main kitchen light off, we had light in the living room.  Good enough for now. The  next day the electrician came to see what was causing all our trouble.  Turns out there was a bare wire in one of the cans  (probably ever since the house was built) that my tweaking had caused to touch the wall of the can and flip the breaker.  And that had caused one of the light switches to fry too.  $100 and an hour of work later, all our lights were working properly.  I guess it’s a good thing I got the lights on sale. Even better- the whole project was done before John got home.  Hooray!Cans (1)